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PHMSA Public Awareness Inspection Q&As

PHMSA recently responded to Q&As regarding information contained in their Public Awareness Program Enforcement Guidance document, which contains information presented to inspectors regarding the general guidelines for performing regulatory inspections of operator’s public awareness programs. Below is a shortened summary of their responses:

  • Accuracy of Message Delivery – There was concern over PHMSA’s expectation that delivery of the message to 100 percent of the stakeholder audience was not mandated by the DOT rule or API RP 1162. PHMSA stated the operator is required to deliver the baseline message to each stakeholder audience based on the delivery frequency outlined in RP 1162. Further, they stated the operator should determine the need for additional message delivery based on the operator’s results.
  • Acceptable Annual Audit Methods – An issue was raised regarding statements included in the Guidance document suggesting regulatory inspections are disallowed as an acceptable method of an annual audit. PHMSA stated in their response they accept three annual audit methods as referenced in RP 1162 (internal self-assessments, third party audits, or regulatory inspections).
  • Use of Operator Employees to Pre-Test PAP Material – Information contained in the Guidance document suggested the use of non-operations employees was not an allowable method of focus group testing. In their response, PHMSA stated the use of non-operations employees is considered an allowable method for pre-testing of messages.
  • Use of “Other Languages” – A question was raised regarding whether the delivery of messages to both the public and emergency official audiences in languages other than English is not appropriate, as their activities require them to conduct their business primarily in English. PHMSA responded by stating, operators are required to conduct their program in English and in other languages commonly understood by a significant number and concentration of the non-English speaking population in the operator’s area. Operators should be able to provide the basis for their decisions with respect to this question.
  • Acceptable Sample Sizes and Margins of Error (MOE) for Measuring Program Effectiveness– It has been suggested the Guidance document is vague and provides little information to the inspector regarding sample sizes and MOE. PHMSA responded by stating the Guidance document will be updated regarding this issue.

For a complete listing of the PHMSA responses, please see their website.